Gulf Labor West is part of a global coalition of artists, writers, educators, activists and others seeking to improve the working and living conditions of the world's working poor. Gulf Labor West operates under the umbrella of Gulf Labor, established by artists from around the world, formed in New York in 2011 to protest the Guggenheim and Louvre Museum’s new projects on Saadiyat Island (Happiness Island in Arabic) in Abu Dhabi.


Gulf Labor West opposes the exploitation of workers in the creation of cultural playgrounds for the wealthy. We resist unconscionable greed among cultural institutions. In the West we also witness daily the harsh economic inequalities that force migrant laborers and children traveling alone, streaming into the United States and Canada for a better life. Gulf Labor West uses art and/as activism to improve the working conditions of laborers around the world.


We employ a broad definition of the word “gulf.”  We see it as a geographic designation, a geopolitical dynamic, and a metaphor for “chasm.” Gulf Labor West draws a direct line on a map from the Arabian/Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Mexico.


We believe that living wages, safe shelter, and medical care are human rights. We ascribe to the principles of human rights established by the United Nations and the International Labor Organization (ILO). We seek Fair Trade practices and support workers' rights to congregate, be paid adequately and on time, and live in clean and healthy environments. Gulf Labor West opposes the de facto practice of indentured servitude, which entices foreign workers under a mountain of debt into arduous journeys. We demand awareness, responsibility, and transparency from cultural institutions, artists, architects, engineers, corporations, and development entities that build these projects.


Gulf Labor West links to organized and informal labor organizations. We build coalitions with all people and organizations that share our principles. We aspire to begin local, regional, national and international artists' unions. We reach the public at large via performances, conferences, art exhibits, protests, and social media projects to reveal abuses regarding the rights of workers and artists.


Gulf Labor West’s participants largely represent the Western parts of the United States, Mexico and Canada from Mexico City to Vancouver. Our group is comprised of artists who live and work in the region as well as those who immigrated/migrated from Latin America, Asia, The Middle East and Europe.